Jeff Kosseff

Subscribe to all posts by Jeff Kosseff

FCC Plans Maximum Fine for Television Broadcast of Indecent Material

The Federal Communications Commission today announced its intent to fine a television station $325,000 — the maximum penalty available — for airing less than three seconds of a pornographic video on a small portion of the screen during an evening newscast.  The Notice of Apparent Liability is a reminder of the FCC’s continued vigorous enforcement … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Extends Stay in Battle Over Access to Content Companies’ Confidential Information

By Nicholas Dashman This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted a stay of an FCC order that would have made hundreds of thousands of pages of highly confidential unredacted programming distribution and negotiation strategy documents available for inspection by third parties.  The disclosure of these materials would have occurred as … Continue Reading

Do We Have a Right to Online Anonymity? Depends On Which Judge You Ask

The Edward Snowden leaks have forced Americans to question whether the government monitors their online activities.  But intelligence-gathering is not the only government threat to Internet privacy: plaintiffs in defamation cases are using court subpoenas to attempt to unmask Internet users’ identities. In some seedy corners of the Internet, commenters use the veil of anonymity … Continue Reading

Journalists Nationwide Face Surge of Subpoenas in Federal and State Courts

Reporters nationwide have faced a flurry of subpoenas in recent months, calling into question whether journalists can guarantee confidentiality to sources.  The repeated attempts to force journalists to reveal their confidential sources and other information about their newsgathering demonstrate the need for strong reporter “shield laws” on both the federal and state level. Among some … Continue Reading

Copyright Suits Against Anonymous Defendants Must Involve Common ‘Swarm’

A federal court last week ruled that copyright owners can only sue multiple peer-to-peer users if all of the defendants participated in the same infringement scheme. In recent years, copyright owners have sued people who have shared their movies, songs, and other content via peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent. The copyright owners use proprietary software to … Continue Reading

New Opinion Examines Privacy Claims Against Online Media

News organizations are more likely to be liable in privacy lawsuits if their reporting is factually incorrect, according to a federal court opinion issued this week. Shana Edme, who was pursuing a modeling career, uploaded her modeling photographs to Modelmayhem, an industry website.  She alleges that in 2011, the site released pictures of her in … Continue Reading

First Amendment Protects ‘Liking’ on Social Media

A federal appellate court on Wednesday ruled that the First Amendment protects the act of “liking” on Facebook or other social media. In Bland v. Roberts, a sheriff’s deputy “liked” the Facebook page of the candidate who was challenging the incumbent sheriff in the upcoming elections.  After the incumbent won re-election, the deputy was fired. … Continue Reading

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Media Shield Law

 By Kurt Wimmer and Jeff Kosseff The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would prevent federal prosecutors, agencies and civil litigants from forcing journalists to reveal their confidential sources without court approval. In a 13-5 vote, the committee approved S. 987, the Free Flow of Information Act (FFIA), which is sponsored by … Continue Reading

New Opinion Examines Terminated Employee’s Access to Confidential Information

A Virginia federal court opinion issued this week illustrates the hazards of allowing employees to retain access to confidential company information after they learn of their termination. On November 3, 2011, ECS Federal, Inc. informed Jacqueline Marsteller, a senior vice president and account executive, that she would be terminated effective at the end of the year.  … Continue Reading

BYOD Programs Raise Important Tax Issues

As we noted recently, employers are increasingly adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, in which employees access their work email and apps on personal devices. Our colleagues at InsideCompensation summarize the important tax issues that employers should consider when developing BYOD programs.… Continue Reading

BYOD’s Rapid Growth Presents New Legal Challenges

Companies are increasingly allowing employees to access work email and apps on their personal devices, according to a new Gartner survey of chief information officers. But employers confront many tough policy and legal questions when they adopt Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”) programs. Thirty-eight percent of the CIOs said that their organizations will stop providing … Continue Reading

Timely Delivery Regulations May Soon Apply to Online Sales

In a draft report released this week, the Federal Trade Commission staff recommended that the Commission require online merchants to adhere to the same timely delivery requirements as mail- and telephone-based retailers. In 1975, the FTC began requiring mail- and telephone-order merchants to ship their products within the advertised time frame. If the merchant does … Continue Reading

First Amendment Does Not Protect Hackers’ Identities, NJ Court Holds

The First Amendment does not protect the identities of computer hackers, a New Jersey appellate court held this month. Warren Hospital alleges that two anonymous individuals hacked into its web and email servers and sent inappropriate and defamatory messages to all hospital employees.  The hospital and some employees filed a civil action against the John … Continue Reading

Michigan Court Rejects First Amendment Balancing Test for Online Anonymous Speech

A Michigan appellate court ruled last week that state discovery rules provide adequate safeguards for anonymous online speech.  The opinion is a significant deviation from the rulings of other state courts, which have applied a First Amendment balancing test to determine whether to grant discovery requests for the identities of anonymous online speakers. Thomas M. … Continue Reading